“It was a busy year with many domestic productions as well as servicing for foreign productions, but with not very optimistic expectations regarding the number and the financing of new domestic productions.
Due to the cut in funding from the National Centre for Cinema, many independent productions have been made in a guerilla system”, according to Tudor Giurgiu, of the production company Libra Film and of the distribution company Transilvania Film.
In 2015 a new Minister of Culture, Vlad Alexandrescu, and a new general director of the National Centre for Cinema, Anca Mitran, were appointed. Central European Media Enterprises CME sold MediaPro Studios. Romanian films that garnered critical acclaim in 2015 included Radu Jude’s Romanian/Bulgarian/Czech coproduction Aferim! produced by HiFilm Productions, Radu Muntean’s One Floor Below / Un etaj mai jos produced by Romania’s Multimedia Est, Corneliu Porumboiu’s The Treasure / Comoara, produced by Romania’s 42 Km Film and Alexander Nanau’s documentary Toto and His Sisters / Toto si surorile lui.
Sixteen feature films were produced in Romania in the first nine months of 2015 according to the CNC. The list includes Cristi Puiu’s Sierranevada, produced by Mandragora, Cristian Mungiu’s untitled project aka Family Photos produced by Mobra Films, Radu Jude’s Scarred Hearts / Inimi cicatrizate produced by HiFilm Production, and Nae Caranfil’s 6.9 on the Richter Scale / 6,9 pe scara Richter produced by Mobra Films.
Other feature films shot in 2015 are Adrian Sitaru’s Fixeur (4Proof Film) and Adina Pintilie’s debut feature Touch Me Not/ Nu mă atinge-mă produced by 4 Proof Film and Manekino Film. Several independent features have been shot in 2015 including Gabriel Achim’s second feature, The Last Day / Ultima zi (Green Film).
International coproductions increased and new partners emerged, such as Macedonia, Croatia, Lithuania and the USA. Coproductions with Bulgaria multiplied. Thriller Dogs/Câini, the debut feature of Bogdan Mirică, was shot in 2015 as a production of Romania's 42 Km Film in coproduction with France's EZ Films and Bulgaria's Argo Film. Igor Cobileanski’s second feature Eastern Business, shot in summer 2015, is a coproduction between Romania’s Alien Film and Lithuania's Just a Moment.
The English-language debut of the Romanian-born France-based filmmaker Radu Mihaileanu, The History of Love, moved to Romania in July 2015 after shooting in Montréal and New York. The film is produced by France’s 2.4.7 Films in coproduction with Oï Oï Oï Productions and Romania’s Libra Film.
In February 2015 in Bucharest Jesús del Cerro, who built his career at Mediapro Pictures, established Studio Indie Productions together with Rodrigo Ruiz-Tarazona, the owner and CEO of Cinelab Romania. Indie Productions coproduced with the U.S. company Lunatic Filmsthe independent low budget production Far from Here by James Pillion, which was shot in Romania in 2015.
According to the CNC, ten long documentaries were produced in 2015, compared to five in 2014. The list of documentaries in production in 2015 includes The Sight of Music/ Lo sguardo della musica by Giuseppe Tornatore, a docu-fiction produced by Bobby Păunescu through Mandragora Group in coproduction with Tornatore’s Piano B Produzioni, and Alexandru Belc's Cinema, Mon Amour which is part of the campaign Save the Big Screen.
Castel Film Studios, which mostly services international productions, had a good year. “It was slightly better in terms of profits although the number of projects was more or less the same as in 2014”, Bogdan Moncea, Marketing Manager at Castel Film told FNE. Eight international productions have been shot at Castel Film in 2015, of which the most important is Tommy Wirkola’s thriller SF What Happened to Monday? starring Glenn Close, Willem Dafoe and Noomi Rapace.
Shooting of international productions slowed down in 2015 at MediaPro Studios, which serviced mainly advertisements. The Norwegian feature film A Norwegian Christmas Story / Snekker Andresen og Julenissen (working title) by Terje Ragnes was shot with Seven Film providing services at MediaPro Studios in June 2015. The film produced by Fantefilm Fiksjon was shot 90% in Romania following the good experience established by The Wave / Bølgen produced by the same company with Seven Film at the MediaPro Studios in Romania in 2014. The disaster movie The Wave became Norway’s entry at the Oscars 2016.
In October 2015 it was announced that CME sold MediaPro Studios to a group of prominent American and Romanian investors including Donald Kushner and Bobby Păunescu. The producers’ main objective is to restore the prestige of one of the biggest film complexes in Central and Eastern Europe.
The New Romanian Cinema Association together with the local industry launched Location Guide Romania in March 2015, a project aimed at promoting the country’s various shooting locations and production facilities.
According to a report of PwC Romania published in autumn 2015, the aggregate turnover of the film industry in Romania is approximately 53 m EUR, out of which 82% is generated by foreign productions. The film industry employs 650 to 750 film professionals and the taxes paid to the state budget amount to up to 5 m EUR annually. Revenues of up to 149 m EUR are generated in sectors connected to the film industry. The PwC estimates that the Romanian film industry has a total economic impact of approximately 200 m EUR, creates between 1,600 and 1,800 jobs and pays taxes of up to 22 m EUR to the state budget.
A state aid scheme could increase foreign film production in Romania by up to seven times to approximately 350 m EUR, and the total aggregated economic impact could go up to EUR 1.4 billion EUR, with over 5,600 jobs and taxes of 110-140 m EUR, said PwC Romania. But no state aid is in sight for now and no perspective for a tax incentives scheme.
A total of 183 films including 15 domestic films premiered through November 2015, according to Cinemagia. There were 183 premieres in 2014.
Day-and-date release is in the early stages. After being released theatrically by Transilvania Film on 27 February 2015 with over 53,000 tickets sold, Tudor Giurgiu’s political thriller Why Me?/ De ce eu? was launched for the international audience on VOD on the official website of the film, deceeu.ro. Tudor Giurgiu told FNE that he doesn’t have a VOD strategy for the moment. “With Why Me? we wanted to run an experiment and see if Romanians living abroad will be interested in seeing it,” he said.
Romanian distributors usually release their international films on VOD four to six months after their theatrical release. Antoine Bagnaninchi, who runs Independenta Film says that VOD has become routine for most of his films. “Until recently we launched most of our films on VOD but lately we have been launching all of them on VOD”, Bagnaninchi said.
Independenta Film joined the VOD platform Seenow in mid-April 2015. Seenow is operated by Direct One and is the first Romanian provider of live TV and VOD available on all screens.
CINEPUB, an online and free of charge platform for Romanian films, was launched on YouTube by GAV on 26 February 2015. Cinepub in partnership with Google Romania shows domestic feature films, short films and documentaries.
International sales showed positive results in 2015. Corneliu Porumboiu’s The Treasure / Comoara was sold by Wild Bunch in 24 territories including the US.
Radu Jude's Aferim!, Romania's entry for the Oscar 2016 in the foreign-language category, was also sold by Beta Cinema in the US, UK, Hungary, ex-Yugoslavia, Poland, Taiwan, France, Czech Republic, China and Bulgaria.
Films Boutique has sold Radu Muntean’s Un etaj mai jos/One Floor Below in Canada, Argentina, ex-Yugoslavia, Italy, Hungary, Greece, Switzerland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Heretic Outreach sold Tudor Giurgiu’s Why Me? in ex-Yugoslavia. Ana Lungu's independent debut feature Self-portrait of a Dutiful Daughter / Autoportretul unei fete cuminţi (Mandragora) will be distributed in Brazilian cinemas at the beginning of 2016. Cristi Puiu’s Sierranevada, shot in 2015, has been pre-sold by Wild Bunch to Elle Driver for French distribution.
EXHIBITION AND BOX OFFICE
There were 340 screens of which 312 are digital in 2015 compared to 281 screens of which 163 were digital in 2014.
The Save the Big Screen campaign, launched by Romanian Film Promotion in partnership with the National Film Center and GAV led to the digitalisation of 35 old Romanian cinemas since 2014, most of them members of RADEF RomaniaFilm, the network inherited from the Communist era.
Four main cinemas in Bucharest- Studio, Cinema Patria, Scala and Cinema Pro - will have to close or change location according to a law prohibiting public activities in buildings with earthquake risk, approved in November 2015.
Cinema City Romania, the number one cinema operator in Romania, opened its first 4DX cinema in Romania in May 2015 and its second 4DX in July 2015. Cinema City runs 20 multiplexes in 14 Romanian towns with 184 screens and 34,004 seats. Two new multiplexes were expected to open by the end of 2015.
Admissions were 9,787,079 from 29 December 2014 to 22 November 2015, while the box office totaled 41,081,073 EUR / 182,810,775 RON in the same period. Both are expected to be higher through the end of 2015 compared to 2014 as Star Wars: The Force Awakens is to open worldwide on 18 December 2015.
Admissions in 2014 were 10,171,644 and total BO41,649,166 EUR / 185,201,343 RON.
The most successful domestic film in 2015 is Aferim! with 76,637 admissions and 204,377 EUR / 907,724 RON gross since its premiere on 13 March 2015. Aferim! sold 20,039 tickets in the first weekend and beat the record set in 2013 by Călin Peter Netzer's Child's Pose (Parada Film) with 19,729 admissions. Jude’s film thus had the most successful opening for a domestic film in the last 13 years.
In 2014 the domestic chart was topped by Cristina Iacob’s #Selfie (Zazu Film) with 87,288 admissions and 259,971 EUR/ 1,143,875 RON in box office.
International hits through the end of November 2015 were: Fast and Furious (RoImage 2000) with 651,206 admissions, Minions (RoImage 2000) with 433,457 admissions, Fifty Shades of Grey (RoImage 2000) with 317,148 admissions, Spectre (Forum Film Romania) with 265,117 admissions, The Avengers: Age of Ultron (Forum Film Romania) with 233,409 admissions, Jurassic World (Ro Image 2000) with 231,959 admissions, The Martian (Odeon Cineplex) with 195,900 admissions, Hotel Transylvania 2 (InterComFilm Distribution) with 196,171 admissions, Taken 3 (Freeman Entertainment) with 197,785 admissions and Mission: Impossible-Rogue Nation (RoImage 2000) with 179,490 admissions.
GRANTS AND NEW LEGISLATION
In March 2015 the CNC announced that it would allot approximately 2.43 m EUR / 11.88 m RON for the second grants contest of 2014. New projects of Cristian Mungiu, Radu Mihăileanu and Florin Şerban were among the five projects receiving production funding.
From among eight feature films and debut features receiving production grants, six were international coproductions. For the first time, not a single long or short animated project received funding.
In October 2015 the first grant session for 2015 was opened but the results were not announced before the completion of this report.
Anca Mitran won the contest organized by the Ministry of Culture and was appointed General Director at the CNC in September 2015. It was the first contest for General Director of the CNC in nine years.
Vlad Alexandrescu was appointed as the Minister of Culture on 17 November 2015.
Although no tax incentive scheme has been launched by the state yet, local authorities from Cluj announced in February 2015 that they will grant financial incentives to producers shooting in their county. The Transilvania Film Fund (TFF) was launched officially in April 2015 and aims at attracting foreign and Romanian producers and developing local resources and professionals. The initial budget of the fund was 110,000 EUR. In summer 2015 Radu Mihaileanu’s The History of Love, a French / Romanian coproduction, became the first international production to shoot in Cluj.
Irina Radu was confirmed by the Parliament as acting general manager of the Romanian public broadcaster (SRTV) in September 2015. Romanian public television which runs several channels (TVR 1, TVR 2, TVR 3, TVR HD, TVR News, TVR i, TVR Moldova and five territorial studios) had a fiscal debt of approximately 103.5m EUR/457 m RON in July 2015, accumulated since 2005.
Following the blocking of its accounts by the National Agency for Fiscal Administration on 20 July 2015, the Council of Administration decided to close TVR News on 1 August 2015.
The most important Romanian private TV channels are run by media groups. Central European Media Enterprises (CME) runs several TV channels in Romania including Pro TV and MTV Romania. In October 2015 CME decided to increase Pro TV's capital with almost 15 m EUR.
Romania's Intact Media Group runs six TV channels including Antena 1. Turkish trust Dogan runs in Romania Kanal D. The main news TV channels are Realitatea TV and Digi TV.
The Duty / Datoria by Laurenţiu Gabriel Rusescu won the first edition of the script contest for original series The First Episode, launched by HBO Romania in February 2015. The winner received 2,500 USD and the winning script is taken into account for development. A total of 308 scripts have been submitted.
Mădălina Popescu has been named the new Head of Operations at HBO Romania replacing Carmen Harabagiu, Country Manager HBO Romania, who left the company in July 2015.
In 2015 HBO aired three original Romanian documentaries: Claudiu Mitcu’s The Network / Rețeaua (Parada Film, HBO Romania), Chuck Norris vs. Communism by Ilinca Călugăreanu, a UK/Romanian/German production of Vernon Films, Ratpac Documentary Films in coproduction with Passion Pictures, Impact Partners, HBO Europe, 4Proof Film, and Alexandru Belc’s Cinema, Mon Amour.
In 2015 Frame Film produced for Pro TV channel the seventh season of the successful comedy series Las Fierbinţi.
NATIONAL FILM CENTRE
4-6, Dem. I. Dobrescu street, sector 1, BucharestPhone: +40 213 104 301Fax: + 40 213 104 300www.cnc.gov.ro
THE MINISTRY OF CULTURE AND NATIONAL HERITAGE
FILMMAKERS’S UNION (UCIN)
ROMANIAN FILM PROMOTION
ROMANIAN CULTURAL INSTITUTE
Report by Iulia Blaga
Sources: The National Film Center - CNC, cinemagia.ro